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Tribute to Courageous Ministers
Richard Plache's Loving Service 1
"1976 Lecture -- What Price Integrity?"
Richard, thank you! You stood up for us brethren as a true servant minister for Jesus' sake, long before it was popular to do so. Your name wasn't printed in any Christianity Today article. You weren't lauded by the evangelical media. Your reputation and livelihood disappeared because of your stand. You simply and faithfully did what the Lord led you to do. And, I thank you.
To those out in radio land who will be ultimately hearing this by tape, who couldn't be here for this particular meeting -- probably because of distance... or dread, whichever the case may be... But nevertheless, they will be able to hear it in the privacy of their own homes and hear what's being said, because I'm sure there are many hundreds who would like to be here, but for whatever reason they are not here.
I thought it might be appropriate this evening to begin with a very familiar question: Why are we here? Now the answer to this question really ought to view why am I here. Because if I weren't here, you wouldn't be here this evening.
Now if anyone had told me, six months ago -- would you believe five months ago? -- that I would be standing here under these rather unusual circumstances, I would have questioned the man's sanity or integrity. And I am sure there are people who at this very moment are questioning either my sanity or my integrity.
In fact I there was a rather interesting forum, I understand, being held this particular afternoon at a... college of higher education [Ambassador College?] at which I seemed to be the, featured, um, item on the menu. Now I've never quite experienced what it would be like to be a Thanksgiving turkey after the meal, but nevertheless, I imagine I was dutifully vivisectioned this afternoon.
Let me say for the sake of the lawyer that Mr. Ted Armstrong said that he was going to send, that he will not really have much action for his pen if he is trying to find something inflammatory that I would say against the Worldwide Church of God, because that's not the purpose of this meeting. If he is here as the lawyer who came to Jesus Christ, asking, "Sir, which is the greatest commandment?" his pen may have quite a bit of action.
Now I'm very happy to say the particular material that I'm going to present this evening is neither right nor wrong based on the imperfect vessel that stands before you. I find that at times people enjoy looking at the vessel. Criticizing it, pointing out its flaws... and I could very easily agree with all off them, because I know far more about me than anyone else knows. But you see, the rightness of an issue never stems from the man who may of himself be far from perfect -- and certainly I know that better than my beloved critics. I'm tired of being me most of the time... I also recognize that the system [Worldwide Church of God] that produced people like me, I have, as a part of it, helped to perpetuate. But, you see, when you begin to see this -- you begin to see your own involvement -- then there comes a time when you must face yourself and ask "can I continue to support something that I am not conscientiously able to support?" What does a man do to live with himself? What price integrity?
Well, these are questions that all of us have to answer. Some answer them in various ways.
This evening I would like to give you a résumé of the events that brought me to this particular situation tonight -- and the issues, which are all doctrinal. Qualifications, sins of myself or others will play no part in the presentation. Because I stand here because of finding in the word of God concepts that I myself could not answer with the traditional answers that I had been taught, and I have given over the years.
So I'm not going to attack a person or an institution. The purpose of this is to present to you information for you to consider. Because I believe that Truth will always triumph. It may take some time, but nevertheless that which is true will ultimately be vindicated. I do not stand before you as my tribunal. I stand before Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who will judge my thoughts, as well as my actions.
The book of Proverbs gives us a very important admonition: it says we should never answer a matter before we have heard it, lest we be involved with folly. It also says he who is first in his cause seems just, but his neighbor searches him out. I hope that as a result of this presentation this evening, that those of you here and those of you who will hear this later on cassette tape, will get facts that they would never have otherwise come to see. Because all of us tend to present the story from our own side of view. And, therefore, I think that you as well as others have the right to hear, the right to think, and the right to evaluate.
I'd like to begin by reading some excerpts, first of all from a statement I've entitled "Comments on Mr. Ted's Armstrong's Letters to Me":
While in Bricket Wood [a property in England owned by Worldwide Church of God] during a three-hour conversation with Mr. Ted Armstrong, he explained that because of grave procedural infractions, he would be forced to take certain disciplinary action, which would be a suspension from the ministry for a period of possibly three months, and that this suspension would be kept private between the two of us. He then wrote a letter, in which he officially reconfirmed what he had said in this lengthy conference.
What had been a three-month suspension -- in our conversation -- emerged as an indefinite suspension until official notice that it is changed. In this first letter, there is a promise that "each doctrinal question would be carefully and meticulously discussed at headquarters," and both Mr. Hunting and I were told that there would be at least three full days of meetings December 29, 30 and 31. That there would also be as many additional meetings as necessary.
Mr. Ted Armstrong promised to be in as many of them as possible, and we would all, as brothers, roll up our sleeves, open our bibles, roll out the blackboard, and examine every doctrine as fully and meticulously as necessary.
When the actual meetings took place, there were only two days of meetings. We were told that others would be announced later, but [they] never were. Mr. Ted Armstrong and Mr. Herbert Armstrong were present only on the first, and only for a part, of the proceedings on that first day.
In the morning session of the first day, Mr. Ted Armstrong called upon Mr. Charles Hunting to address the group, even though Charles Hunting hadn't been notified in advance that he was to speak, or what the format or content of the meetings would be. He was totally unprepared, as a result, to give any organized, formal presentation.
He did choose, however, to address the group, and spoke in a very moving, sincere, and powerfully impromptu manner. At the conclusion of the morning session, Mr. Ted Armstrong told me that I would be given the opportunity in the Monday afternoon session. When I arrived for the session , Mr. Ted Armstrong told me that I would be given an opportunity to speak for fifteen minutes, in which I was to summarize everything I wanted to present.
Mr. Herbert Armstrong arrived late and heard only about half of my very brief presentation. At that point, both Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Ted Armstrong left and never returned to hear anymore of the doctrinal discussions.
At the conclusion of the afternoon session, I was handed the second letter from Mr. Ted Armstrong, which broke as a bombshell, because it terminated me from the ministry and revoked any ministerial credentials I might have, which, of course, was contrary to what was stated by Mr. Ted Armstrong in Britain -- and without any discussion with me as to why the sudden change.
A shock as great as this might well have prevented me from going to the meetings the next day. But despite the sadness, the incredulity on my part, I managed to present what I feel was solid, biblical evidence upon which our conclusions were based. Because, as I told the committee that morning, I had a sincere desire to serve them, even though I was no longer recognized by the Worldwide Church of God as a minister.
My shock was not only due to this unexpected termination, but also to the sinister implications of the unusual choice of words in the second letter, in which it was alleged that I was in need of being completely and totally rehabilitated -- morally and spiritually.
What was Mr. Ted Armstrong trying to imply?
He knows, as well as all of my associates who've known me over the years, that my record in the Worldwide Church of God, as far as any moral situation is concerned, has been above reproach. It may be that some, whose record is not quite the same, who may be somewhat tarnished in their record, may have difficulty believing there could be someone who doesn't have similar skeletons in their closet. As Mr. Herbert Armstrong has stated so eloquently and frequently over the years, people who accuse others of something are usually guilty themselves of the problems of which they accuse others.
I thereby challenge Mr. Ted Armstrong or any others of the Worldwide Church of God to produce evidence of need for such moral and spiritual rehabilitation.
I was assured, by the third letter from Ted, that my salary would continue, even though I had been terminated from the ministry. I resigned, however, from all connections with this organization on a monetary basis, because I can "no longer morally or spiritually take money from an organization I can no longer wholeheartedly in integrity support."
When I asked about a fair and just financial settlement regarding severance pay for faithfully and loyally serving the organization for over 17 years, I was hold that if I was willing to sign a statement that would promise that I would never speak to others about what had happened or the truths which are contained in the Word of God -- which they would interpret as an "attack" on the "Work" -- I would receive a settlement.
I rejected this gag approach, and as a result, received no such settlement
However, thankfully, I am now free to speak God's truth in love to any and all who have ears to hear. And that is why I am standing here this evening.
Plaché's Resignation Letter
I would now like to read excerpts from a letter of resignation sent to Mr. Herbert Armstrong:
Dear Mr. Armstrong,
It is with a deep sense of sadness that I hereby submit my written resignation to you.
This has not been an easy decision. It has been the most difficult and traumatic decision of my entire life. One does not invest over 17 years of devoted and loyal service, develop hundreds, yes, thousands of friends, and then carelessly and casually turn your back and calmly walk away from nearly 50 percent of one's life work and not have it severely affect him physically and emotionally.
The reason for my resignation must therefore be of major proportions.
I came in to the Worldwide Church of God in June 1958, fully persuaded that it was God's true and only church, holding fast to biblical truth which appeared to be easily substantiated by a study of the Bible.
Your challenge not to believe you, but believe the Bible was refreshingly different. At last, it seemed, I had found someone who steadfastly refused to get between people and their Bible and between people and their God.
Over the years, I began to realize, however, that this initial approach, that so captivated me, was not always the way it actually worked in real life.
c was surprised to discover that the maxim for safe, tranquil membership in the Worldwide Church of God (and especially for those of us in the ministry) was not to make waves, not to ask embarrassing questions, to believe the church first and foremost -- even when there seemed to be an apparent contradiction between church doctrine and biblical evidence.
Yet I, like so many, continued to strive diligently over the years to give loyal and faithful support to church policy -- even when their were questions which had to be conveniently swept under my mental rug.
It was this past fall that my personal bible study began to uncover an increasingly number of alarming questions, which [were] so staggering in their impact that I found it impossible to sweep them under an already lumpy rug.
My mind turned toward Pasadena, and the opportunity to present them to members of the doctrinal committee. This was first and foremost in my thinking from the very beginning.
Those who claim that it was being said it was impossible to receive a hearing in Pasadena were on the American side of the Atlantic, not on the British side. Repeatedly, those of us involved in this study spoke of how both you and your son would be receptive. It is unfortunate that there were "procedural errors" made by some of us in our zeal, excitement, enthusiasm for what we were persuaded was true and which we felt would increase the overall effectiveness of God's Work -- when we could begin to fully proclaim a new covenant message without the trappings and scaffolding of legalism which have turned thousands against the Work.
It is true that we did this without having it approved procedurally by Headquarters. But, Mr. Armstrong, if my memory serves me correctly, you began to preach certain concepts that you felt were biblically correct while still affiliated with the Seventh-Day Church of God, even though they were not officially recognized as church doctrine.
Let me give you an example:
You and Mrs. Armstrong kept the annual Holy Days alone, from 1927 to 1934. From then until 1938, when your relationship was finally terminated with the Seventh-Day Church of God, you were both preaching and observing the annual Holy Days with those members you were personally responsible for.
This was a breach of procedure of the highest order.
It would be tantamount today for a minister of the Worldwide Church of God to begin to preach against the Holy Days and refuse to administer them, contrary to recognized church policy.
Another word about "procedural malfunctioning" may also be in order. If the doctrinal input and publication of new and needful doctrinal changes were efficient and reasonably swift, especially when human lives are being damaged by wrong teaching and administration of erroneous biblical concepts, there would be far less likelihood of individual ministers finding it necessary to give the information to their people ahead of Pasadena.
As a case in point, we'd been waiting since the Feast of Tabernacles, 1974, for an official doctrinal presentation on the entire subject of healing, which would have given credibility to the very sketchy and inadequate statement of Dr. Herman Hoeh in the bulletin of September 1974.
We are still waiting on an official statement on the administration of second- and third tithe. All the while many people, especially in Britain, continue to suffer under the oppressive multiple-tithing system -- tithing one, two, and three tithes -- and are not able to afford meat more than once a week. Who have no provision in their budget for clothing and for no extenuating circumstances. And yet we wait, while Pasadena theologically discusses what is involving human lives. The questions are not just questions of theology, but at times questions of survival -- financially, maritally, and even physically.
What does a minister do in the meantime?
Does he stand idly by while people who look to him for guidance and direction go without necessary answers and continue to suffer needlessly?
Does he merely shift responsibility to those at headquarters and to the lethargic leadership claiming to represent Jesus Christ?
What does he do when he knows the biblical answers? When he's absolutely proven their validity beyond any shadow of a doubt? When he's already discovered what Jesus Christ revealed so very long ago?
Can a minister honestly "pull a pilot" by washing his hands of responsibility? This line of reasoning was rejected at Nuremburg [sp] when Germans sought to escape personal responsibility by claiming they were "just following orders."
I can not use this convenient copout. I've realized that I must eventually stand alone before Jesus Christ as my judge to give account. I will not be able to hide behind the skirts of the church or as merely a face in a vast throng of ministers. I must be faithful and honest with what I've seen with mine own eyes in the Word of God. I must preach what I've proven to be true, not merely what I've been commanded to preach by those over me.
I must ultimately answer to the highest headquarters of them all: the heavenly Jerusalem and the throne of God Almighty and his son Jesus Christ.
No man has the authority to ask more than the apostle Paul, who said "follow me as I follow Christ." When Peter and John were commanded by those who were over them in authority (who were sitting Moses' seat) not to preach in the name of Jesus Christ, they replied that their obligation to God was greater than their obligation to men.
Over the years, I've tried to loyally administer church doctrine, which in certain circumstances has eventually come to be repudiated. I have been responsible for damaging human lives unwittingly. This I can not do... now that I know better. While I very strongly believed in the absolute, eternal, spiritual Laws of God, which Jesus Christ, the great Lawgiver, brought and has amplified by the later writings of his inspired servants in the New Testament, I can not find any New Testament validation for certain old covenant laws that we in the Worldwide Church of God have arbitrarily brought over into the new covenant.
Mr. Armstrong, have you really been sufficiently briefed, so that you are personally aware, not only of the conclusions we have drawn, but of the biblical evidence in support of these conclusions? You were present for only a small part of the total presentation in the doctrinal committee. In fact, when the major biblical evidence was submitted, in the morning and afternoon sessions on Tuesday, neither you nor Mr. Ted Armstrong were present.
I would be more than happy to sit down with you and carefully cover the evidence that was submitted. Evidence which, by the way, a number of members of the doctrinal committee admitted that they agreed up to 98 percent! Men whose names I know!
Do you know their names, Mr. Armstrong?
We are not the only ones who believe this way. You have many men working at various levels of the ministry and executive administration that also understand that what we presented has a great deal of credibility.
Have you written these matters off before hearing all of the facts? The book of Proverbs warns us to avoid answering a matter before we've heard it, lest it be folly. Is it not true, Mr. Armstrong, that when Paul and Barnabas returned to Jerusalem for the doctrinal discussion, the proceedings were carried on before the entire church? And if you read in Acts 15, and especially verse 12, it says "and the multitude kept silence as Paul and Barnabas spoke."
Since we in the Worldwide Church claim to base our approach on the Bible, why were our doctrinal discussions carried on in private, apart from the church, who should have the chance to hear both sides of the story?
This was the policy for so many years, under the constitution and the by-laws of the Radio Church of God, when a person had the opportunity to give a presentation before the entire church. It's a shame this was conveniently removed from the constitution and by-laws only several years ago.
Nevertheless, Mr. Armstrong, I am hereby claiming the biblical authority of Acts 15 to have the opportunity to present the other side of the story to the headquarters church.
(Going on in the letter:)
Certainly people who have the truth have nothing to fear when material is presented on the other side, which you feel is so ridiculous that it hardly needs answering. Some have felt that doing this would "open up their minds to a satanic takeover."
Does this mean, Mr. Armstrong, that deeply converted mind, which has God's spirit of power, love, and self-control is so vulnerable, so wishy washy, so weak, that Satan becomes more powerful than God's Spirit? Haven't we tended to belittle the mental and spiritual capacity of mature adults in the church? Should we really treat them like dumb sheep?
I believe the people in the Worldwide Church of God have the right to hear all the evidence. I have found those who do take the time to listen -- with a mind that isn't so totally prejudiced by being locked in certain mental premises that the truth can only come from headquarters -- are dumbfounded when they find what the Bible really says.
The evidence available, showing that certain old covenant laws -- which we have taken and brought over, even in their mosaic trappings, into the new covenant -- the evidence against this is staggering. I'm afraid, Mr. Armstrong, you've never had a chance to really consider it. The arguments you say you examined so many years ago concerning some of these laws that you felt that you could disprove are not the primary evidence that has led us to the conclusions that we have reached. There are questions, Mr. Armstrong, questions which you are not equipped to answer. Because none of the men on the doctrinal committee presented conclusion evidence to refute what we presented.
A number of your own researchers, Mr. Armstrong, see the error of our traditional explanations. And, I might add, are embarrassed when they hear other members of the doctrinal committee stand up and present archaic concepts from the mid-50s in defense of traditional approaches where the biblical evidence is rather scanty, to say the least.
It is my sincere hope the Worldwide Church of God will eventually embrace the complete, New Testament position. As far as I'm concerned, the door is always opened for my return. I would count it a privilege to return and devote my total energy to advancing the Work when I am personally convinced from the Word of God that the Worldwide Church of God is doing the Word God's way.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. It is the first and only draft, and has come from my heart to you -- a man I still deeply love and respect. You will continue to be in my prayers, as I hope to be in yours.
This was the letter of resignation submitted to Mr. Herbert Armstrong.
I would now like to take the remainder of the time to give you a rather concentrated view of why a number of us -- Mr. Charles Hunting, who, by the way, contrary to the statement of, I believe, one of the very highest members of the [Worldwide Church of God] executive team, when interviewed by Mr. Dick Lloyd today, said he was not... Mr. Charles Hunting was a vice president in the Worldwide Church of God. Vice president in charge of financial affairs and planning for Europe and for the Middle East. His picture appears in Envoy after Envoy [an Ambassador College yearbook] with the other vice presidents, yet it was denied by a man of very high standing -- who has a legal background, I believe -- that he never was a vice president. <audience laughter>
Circumstances leading up to his understanding the simple, Biblical Gospel
When did it all begin?
My family and I were traveling about six weeks here in the United States. We visited about 10 different church areas, and I had what I considered to be and I still consider to be a privilege to address the headquarters church in the [Ambassador] Auditorium.
Upon return to England, I began an intensive study into the subject of healing.
Why should I study healing? Here's a doctrine that's been traditional, a basic doctrine of God's Church for years. I've preached it; I've pontificated about it... why should I study healing?
The answer is because I didn't know what I believed anymore. I knew what I had traditionally been taught, but I read a doctrinal statement, officially recognized, written by Dr. Hoeh, when he said, "we can no longer call any drug, or any operation, either right or wrong," [I said] wait a minute! This is different from what I've been taught and from what I've taught, because most drugs and most operations are wrong and satanic by the traditional concept that we taught for years in the Worldwide Church of God, whereby people, both adults and children, have resisted using available medical services and have suffered needlessly and have even died.
Yes, that was the approach for many, many years.
But as a result of great pressure -- and I've never found that we've ever changed except when great pressure has been brought, and where they have been as one member of the doctrinal committee wrote to us this past fall, "casualties." I didn't ever think I would be one of those casualties... because of deep convictions, standing for concepts that you believe are biblical [you] would become a casualty and would be branded, vilified and your character assassinated. But that's the way it seems it always works.
They never rebut or refute the truth. They always attack the vessel.
Fine. I'd like to attack me, too. I deserve nothing but death. I only stand here as a result of God's mercy and grace and love. And whatever anyone says about me -- fine. Because I could say a lot more. But as I recall, Jesus Christ's blood covers sins, and God will remember them no more.
It seems that some men do: maybe they lack a sufficient amount of the Spirit of God, where love covers a multitude of sins.
But I began to study healing because I didn't know what I believed. I was afraid for anyone to ask me a question about healing, because I didn't know what to tell him. I didn't know whether I should tell him, "hang in there! Have faith! God will do it! Here's a blank check; sign your name!" or to say, "go get it [taken] out!" because I didn't know what was right. I was a product of a system that had deeply ingrained the prejudice in my mind, and I was asked as a minister to suddenly say "it doesn't make any difference what you do," then go on to say "of course it would be better to have faith, but if you don't, you're not spiritually inferior, though you may be weak." <audience laughter>
I really could not quite fathom the logic of that statement...
I found other ministers in the Worldwide Church of God equally incapable. And I believe, in the Worldwide Church of God, there is a vast vacuum of misunderstanding, of confusion, where people are going and receiving medical assistance -- but don't know why [but they] aren't sure it's right, but are doing it, and are doing inestimable damage to their consciences. [ cognitive dissonance? :-) ]
There are others who, because of fear and prejudice, are denying themselves legitimate medical aid, and each day grow worse. And we still have silence from headquarters as to what is right and proper from this book. But that never figured in the statement [by Dr. Hoeh?]. There was no biblical confirmation that gave credibility to the decision.
So I began to study. I tried as much as I could to set everything I'd ever been taught on the shelf, and to go to the Bible and read every verse on the subject of healing as thought I'd never read it before. I proceeded meticulously, scripture to scripture; I didn't know what I would find... and what I found shocked me: because I'd been told that healing is an absolute promise from God, a guarantee -- like a blank check. And all we gotta have is enough faith -- whatever that may mean. And be spiritually obedient enough -- whatever that may mean -- because I don't find the Bible quantifies faith, except to say all you need is enough the size of a grain of mustard seed.
I don't find you have to be "good enough" to somehow earn something from God. No, the conditions [imposed by Worldwide Church of God] -- faith (enough of it), obedience (enough of it) -- finally gives us the chance to take God's word and pin him in a corner with it, and say "you've gotta do it! You promised. If you didn't, you're a liar. Your Bible's not true."
I searched for such evidence in the Bible. And the Scriptures I had used for years as supports for that concept crumbled, one by one. Other major premises upon which that traditional concept was based I began to check, and I found once again the biblical evidence was not there.
What I found was that God does heal today. Yes, that was never in question. But upon what basis [does he heal]? How do I approach God? Do I approach God, demanding something from him -- saying "you promised and you'd better do it"? Do I intimidate God with his own Word? Or do I come as a humble, little child, saying, "Father, I want your will to be done. You know me better than I know me. You know everything about me. Now, Father, if you will to do it, I know you'll do it." Because God heals according to his will and based on his mercy.
But if God wanted us to look to him for healing -- supernaturally -- for everything, then he would not have built this fantastic, natural repair system in the human body, that works whether we want it to or not. And our bodies are striving to repair themselves...
And God's Word also shows that there are things that we can do that are not wrong.
But the purpose of this lecture is not to expound the subject of healing completely, but to say I was shocked at what I found, because what I found was not what I had been told and taught and had preached for years the Bible said.
Study of healing led to understanding the two covenants for the first time
But I also found other things. I began to notice the way God dealt with ancient Israel under the terms of the Old Covenant... was vastly different from the way he deals with Spiritual Israel -- the Church -- under the terms of the new covenant. I found that God dealt communally, collectively, en masse with ancient Israel.
· He brought them out of Egypt -- en masse.
· He took them through the Red Sea, and they were baptized figuratively -- en masse.
· They moved together through the wilderness... and who was fed with manna? The good guys as well as the bad guys. Yes, God preserved them, preserved the soles of their sandals -- maybe that's the origin of the "immortal soles"; I don't know... <laughter>
· We also find that God caused their ankles, their feet, not to swell. But did his intervention stop at their ankles? Or didn't God preserve them completely and in health? Even as he brought them out of Egypt and there was not one feeble soul. Now, what are the mathematical odds with a congregation of two million and put them on a wilderness track of staggering proportions... God had done something of a miraculous nature -- en masse -- to that people, to give them the ability to move into that wilderness trek.
That is very interesting.
Several years ago, we finally discovered that one particular law that we'd taken from the old covenant, and we sliiiiiiiid it over into the new -- or if you like the word, "transplant." In case Dr. Christian Bernard may be here. <laughter -- I think Bernard performed the first successful heart transplant>
We took over into the new -- that was the seventh-year land Sabbath -- and we imposed that upon Christian farmers. We said it was a law. We said it was "a test of faith," didn't we? And farmer after farmer went to the wall financially and some went into bankruptcy!
Why didn't someone over the years say "wait a minute! Let's go back and study this law more carefully. It seems to me God is reneging on his part of the bargain." Because you see, God said he would give a three-fold harvest in the sixth year. But I know of not one case of a Christian farmer receiving a three-fold harvest in the sixth year. Now why then did we impose upon people their part of the bargain, and never, ever ask "why isn't God fulfilling his part?"
Oh, we are great "blue pencilers" of Law. We pick and choose various laws out of the old covenant that, somehow, we think are convenient, suitable, or should be imposed. We will take whole sections of Law and slide them -- or we will pick and choose parts of laws and them slide them. By what method do we do this?
What is the logical, biblical method that the Worldwide Church of God has used over the years to pick and choose in an arbitrary method?
It would be good for those of you out there in radio-land to take this question to your minister this next Sabbath. Ask him what the method is by which we can know which laws in the old covenant system of law are binding upon Christians today? Make him prove it biblically and logically -- not arbitrarily, falling back on the bruised reed of "church government."
The plain truth about tithing
I began to notice some interesting facets [of Worldwide Church of God "theology"]. Let's take tithing, because there are people who really do like to "take tithing," don't they? <audience laughter>
Let's take tithing. It's interesting which parts of the tithing law we have kept. We kept one part -- that is, the proportion: it's a tenth. Yes, we have slipped that one over, very conveniently, into the New Testament contract.
But what about the other parts of the tithing law that have gotten lost in the shuffle. The old covenant commanded tithes be paid to the Levites, not to the church. But one time, the Worldwide Church of God claimed the ministry happened to be the Melchizedek priesthood. We have since changed that, as we have on so many <chuckling> other doctrines.
We have left behind the fact that people paid their tithes when they went to Jerusalem at the festival periods. We have left behind the fact that under the Levitical system, the old covenant, tithing was on agricultural products.
Some might say, "but, ah, Abraham tithed the spoil." But the law under the old covenant showed 1/500 was the proportion given on spoils to the Levites and 1/50 to the priests.
By the way, the priests didn't tithe. <laughing> I guess that means ministers of the Worldwide Church of God don't even have to pay first tithe, because they obviously don't pay second or third -- which is a fact.
There's no evidence of tithing in the history of the New Testament church. And the greatest proof is Matthew 23: 23, which, of course, is speaking to those who were under the mosaic system, and God and Christ said they were to do it. By the way, it was on agricultural products, wasn't it? Christ also told a man who was healed to go give a sacrifice that was commanded in the Law.
1976 doctrinal committee knew truth about "tithing" -- BEFORE Plaché even mentioned it to them!!
No there is no evidence in the New Testament [to support tithing on income], and by the way, on this point, the overwhelming majority of the doctrinal committee of the Worldwide Church of God knows this! This evidence has been known for two years, and yet we still balk, and have never really come clean with the evidence.
The latest booklet on tithing is a farce. And I've not met one person yet who felt that it was honest with the subject. Oh, it never said tithing was a law, because there is no biblical evidence that it is [btw, read this link, which explains what tithing really is -- and the true spiritual ramifications].
But it leaves the distinct impression that you'd better do it anyway. Which, of course, is all you need to do, is to leave that impression.
No, the New Testament shows the spirit of giving, which might mean that people might have to live a little more by faith in finding out what's coming in, as far as offerings are concerned.
But let's look at the multiple tithing system.
We've been waiting now for months for an authoritative statement from headquarters on the administration of second- and third tithe. Isn't it interesting they never asked the question whether or not there was such a thing or should be such things as second- or third tithe?
But, nevertheless, we've been waiting...
Hypocrisy and inconsistency in Worldwide Church of God "tithing"
It is required of members to pay a first tithe to the church, with generous offerings; a second tithe, which they must use only as the church dictates [at the Worldwide Church of God's ersatz Feast of Tabernacles] -- however, I understand that the new magazine "Human Potential" can be purchased out of second tithe. I thought second tithe was supposed to be spent for what you could eat? Apparently, they're going to print it on rice paper. <audience laughter>; third tithe, for the poor. Yes, that's very interesting.
A man came into my office at Bricket Wood, who was a little bit upset. You might say he had a steam up:
He sat down; he said, "is it true ministers don't pay third tithe?"
I said "yes."
He said, "is it true that ministers don't pay second tithe?"
I said "yes."
He said, "is it true that ministers receive, especially in the [United] States, almost 10 percent in second tithe others have paid in, so they can go to the Feast [of Tabernacles]?
I said "yes."
He said, "when you subtract that which they receive from that which they give, it looks to me like they may not be paying much of anything." And, he said "I think that's binding burdens upon people that you are not prepared to bear yourselves!
"What do you think of that?" he said.
And I said, "you're dead right!"
That's what I said.
I could go on to point out that, though someone pointed out today that I have lived affluently in college homes -- and I have -- because the system provided it.
Every one of those homes was offered to me by someone over me in authority. The swimming pool in the home of South Orange Grove [in Pasadena] was suggested by the executive vice-president of the Work in order to encourage me and my family to move from a home we loved right behind where he lives into another home.
He said, "Rich, put in a swimming pool!"
And I said, "well, fine."
And that's where the suggestion came from.
(I thought it might interesting for the record, since in the forum this afternoon, it was my idea that I have a swimming pool. That happens to be a lie!)
Then we procrastinated on clarifying the tithing issue, as people suffered. Just I mentioned before, people in Britain go without meat. And one man, sitting here tonight, mentioned to me before the meeting that he was visiting in Britain some time ago, [was] invited into a member's home, and he was saddened to see the conditions in which they lived, the kind of food on the table: meat once a week... he asked for some jelly, and they didn't have any, because they couldn't afford it.
That made him feel sick. But when I have confronted members of my fellow ministry with this problem, you know what one of them said? "Well," he said, "there are other people who eat meat only once a week in Britain who aren't in the church."
That minister has not been in Britain for five years. And I challenge him to find that the conditions that have existed five years ago are now in existence today when there is an inflation rate, and rising wages ahead of inflation.
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